SC issues contempt notice to NAB chief

Published Jan 31, 2013 12:36pm

Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a show-cause notice for contempt of court to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari over the letter sent by him to President Asif Ali Zardari.

The court summoned the bureau’s chairman to appear before it on Feb 4.

In the letter sent Jan 27, Bokhari accused the apex court of interfering in NAB investigations, particularly against politicians, and endangering the independence of their work.

A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh Azmat Saeed, heard the case Thursday concerning implementation of its March 2012 ruling in the rental power projects (RPP) case.

NAB prosecutor general K K Agha read out the text of the letter sent by the bureau’s chairman to President Zardari. The bench had directed that a verified copy of the letter be presented in court today.

Addressing Agha, Chief Justice Iftikhar inquired as to why such a letter was written and asked for the prosecutor general’s advice on the matter as a lawyer.

In his letter, the NAB chairman had accused the court of colluding with a section of the media against NAB. “This campaign, in which the role of the Supreme Court appears evident, is placing great pressure on me to please the apex court in what could be seen as pre-poll rigging,” Bokhari had written.

No “deviation from elections”

When Agha read out the words “pre-poll rigging” from the letter in court today, the chief justice remarked that the court always speaks of electoral reforms and timely elections.

“The executive, both civilian and military, shall not take any action or steps that are tantamount to deviation from the election,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry reassured.

“Deviation from the constitution or introducing any other system not recognised by the constitution shall not be acceptable,” he added.

The chief justice’s words come amid widespread speculation that the military is working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader and delay the elections that will mark the first time in Pakistan that a civilian government has completed a full term.

A senior leader of the ruling coalition government, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) stalwart Raza Rabbani, also said earlier this week that ‘a conspiracy is being hatched’ by certain elements to derail the democratic process and delay general election for two to three years.

“A sword (of Damocles) is hanging over democracy and it would continue to be there till the election of prime minister after the polls,” Rabbani had stated.

RPP case, accusations against PM

On Jan 15, the Supreme Court had directed authorities to arrest Prime Minister Ashraf and 15 others accused in the RPP case.

The prime minister has been accused of receiving kickbacks and commission in the case as minister for water and power.

The NAB chairman, however, informed the court that there was not yet enough evidence to arrest the premier and others accused in the case.

In the original case, nine RPP firms were accused of receiving more than Rs22 billion as a mobilisation advance from the government to commission the projects but most of them did not set up their plants and a few of them installed them but with inordinate delay.

In March 2012, the Supreme Court had held the RPP contracts non-transparent and ordered that these be rescinded.

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